The NFL’s owners will begin to convene in Palm Beach on Sunday for the league’s annual meetings.
Hovering over the proceedings will be the decision to remove $46 million in total cap space from the Cowboys ($10 million) and Redskins ($36 million) over the next two seasons for their accounting practices during the uncapped year of 2010.
The league has admitted to the Redskins that the teams did nothing wrong and violated no rules. Still, the NFL contends that treating the term “uncapped year” too literally disrupted competitive balance — even though the decision of multiple teams to grossly underspend in 2010 apparently gave rise to no such concerns.
The Redskins have been working to rectify the situation, privately communicating with the league and separately making plans for potential litigation. But while no Redskins official has said anything publicly about the situation, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones opted on Friday to put the rest of the league on notice that he won’t take this one lying down.
And he shouldn’t.
As we understand it, the teams will try at the league meetings to lobby other owners, making the case for some adjustment to the punishment sans crime. If, in the end, the Redskins and Cowboys get nowhere, litigation could occur.
“[T]here is no joy in Mudville, having to team up with the Redskins on a point with the league,” Jones told the Dallas Morning News. “They’re competitors, not cohorts. It just shows you, independent of that, some of the issues we have with this cap-space issue. Sometimes you can have strange bedfellows and this is one of them.”
The situation has several curiosities, which include a decision by the league to offer to the NFLPA the Redskins/Cowboys cap penalties in exchange for an increase in total cap space for 2012, and the absence of an ownership vote on the measure. As one league source previously explained it to PFT, the mere act of conducting a vote would have given Jones and Redskins owner Dan Snyder an opportunity to attempt to secure the support of seven other teams, which then would have prevented the NFL from securing the necessary 24 votes to push the measure through. (It also would have forced those teams that wanted to take cap space from the Cowboys and Redskins to go on record with a vote in favor of the move.)
In our view, the league needs to fix this before it spirals out of control. It’s now obvious that the NFL was engaged in collusion in the uncapped year, trying to keep more money in the owners’ pocket and less in the players’ as a possible year without football loomed. Still, forcing the Redskins and Cowboys to reduce to writing an allegation that the NFL and its teams tried to rein in spending and is now punishing the two that refused to go along with the illegal plan won’t be good for business.
Indeed, it won’t be good for anybody.